Brome Lake Ducks (CLB) has a complex production system. The breeding stock, egg production and duckling hatchery are in Knowlton. The young ducklings are sent to 13 rearing centres scattered throughout Southern Quebec. When fully grown, the ducks are taken to the processing and packaging centre near Val-des-Sources.
On April 13, 2022 the Knowlton production centre was hit by avian flu. It was placed under quarantine and all ducks and eggs were euthanized. Three of the rearing centres were also affected and soon the whole operation had to close.
It is interesting to note that there are three species of birds commonly raised for food – ducks, turkeys and chickens. Chickens have some resistance to avian flu. Ducks and turkeys are very susceptible to infection.
Getting the company back into production started with the intensive cleaning and disinfection of all facilities. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency lifted the quarantine order on the Knowlton facility on August 15, 2022 and the complicated process of rebuilding the breeding stock was started. Some young ducklings were brought in from France to improve the genetic mix. Others came from CLB rearing centres in Quebec that had not been infected with the flu. Getting the right mix of genetic strains of Peking Ducks is important to ensure the high quality products that we have come to know and value.
The manager, Ms. Anderson, notes that the breeding stock is now back to 50% and expects that egg production will start in a couple of weeks and return to normal by April 2023. At full production, 70,000 to 80,000 eggs are produced each week, hatched, and the ducklings are sent to the 13 rearing centres.